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Jun 02

June 2, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #55

Posted on June 2, 2020 at 2:24 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates


Some state officials have said that TML is “advocating” for cities to increase their voter-approval tax rates from 3.5 percent to 8 percent. Is this true?


Unequivocally not. The League has reported on the plain language of a new statutory provision enacted by S.B. 2, which gives city councils the discretion to direct their designated officer or employee to calculate the voter-approval tax rate at eight percent if the city is located in an area declared a disaster area by the governor or president. At this point, the League is unaware of any legal guidance from the state’s attorney general, or elsewhere, that indicates this disaster calculation provision has not been triggered. If such guidance is released, we will pass that information along to our membership as quickly as possible.


Local leaders are looking for guidance on the budget and tax rate adoption process, as city budgeting kicks into high gear this summer. To assist, we have submitted to our membership, in response to numerous inquiries, the most reasonable reading of the statute. We have not, however, advocated for cities to take any particular action with regard to their tax rate, and certainly haven’t encouraged cities to increase their voter-approval tax rates to eight percent, or by any amount. In fact, in the only guidance we have released on the disaster calculation provision back on March 19, we attempted to make this point clear:


“To be clear, the League takes no position on whether a city should or should not use the higher voter-approval rate calculation allowable in a disaster. Each city is different and will need to make that decision based upon any number of factors, such as the impact of the COVID-19 virus on other sources of local revenue, like sales taxes, the amount of city expenditures made in response to the emergency, as well as the ability and willingness of local taxpayers to potentially pay a higher tax rate.”


In recent weeks, some cities have considered resolutions to calculate the voter-approval tax rate at eight percent. Some city councils have adopted these resolutions, others have rejected them. The League supports the ability of all city leaders to decide on tax rates for their communities, whatever that decision might be.


Further Updates


Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?


TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.